Rich Corpolongo Trio: Get Happy (2010)
This is a trio that harks back to Sonny Rollins' work with piano-less groups over half a century ago, but there's nothing slavishly imitative about its music. Instead the evocation is joyous enough by itself to justify the title, and the uncalculated way in which the group goes about its work underlines it.
Corpolongo's tenor sax sound is rich and sonorous and it's clear from the beginning that he's an advocate of the Coleman Hawkins school despite the fact that his tone is on the round side and his phrasing is both fruity and exuberant. Now there has over the years been a number of players of the Hawkins persuasion whose profiles have been far higher than Corpolongo's but on the basis of the evidence here the man has a lot more to say than they did. His eloquence on the title track is a model of driving economy while such is the understanding that the trio enjoys that the music is never a vehicle for empty rhetoric.
The leader might be making himself a hostage to fortune in covering "Body And Soul" but part of the game here is finding new things to say on such warhorses. He manages to accomplish this task, which is not an inconsiderable feat in itself, but what seals it is the innate understanding that the trio has, which in this case results in collective music-making of a kind that quite against the odds still sounds fresh.
Their take on bop as exemplified by their reading of Charlie Parker's "Chi Chi" has the same quality. Such is the way of these things that passing time has taken the edge off what was once radical, but here that aspect is overtaken by the sense of a group keeping it tight because they positively don't know how to take it otherwise. Drummer Rusty Jones proves himself to be a master of nuance and veiled reference and even while doing this he knows the power of keeping the foot only lightly on the accelerator.
Those in pursuit of live jazz would likely not be disappointed to come across this trio. For all the venerable qualities of the program they offer, their work is in essence an espousal of timeless verities. It's caught in such fidelity here that it's not all that far from that live experience either.
Track Listing: Chi Chi; Mangoes; Body And Soul; Without A Song; The Boy Next Door; Get Happy; Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams; Lullaby Of The Leaves; Dewey Square.
Personnel: Rich Corpolongo: tenor sax; Dan Shapera: bass; Rusty Jones: drums.
Record Label: Delmark Records